This is a true story of a boy and his journey through football and life. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and unconscious.
John started playing football with his friends in the park, the school, the road and pavements of his youth. He was never seen without a ball at his feet. In school, out of school it was always the same. Sometimes he didn’t even need his friends as a wall would be used to pass endless hours developing his touch and skills. At the ripe old age of 7 he got involved in organised football for the first time. He learned quickly and developed fast both on the pitch but also in the pick-up games down the park and on the street. At the tender age of 9, the scouts were already circling, however he continued with his local club for another year or so. During this period he stuck out like salad on a fish supper! He had a January birthday which put him ahead of most boys and girls his age. He was physically stronger and faster than the majority of his opponents. At the age of eleven, he finally relented and signed for one of the biggest clubs in the country. He signed ‘professional’ terms and entered their ‘elite’ academy. The parents were delighted, he was in the local paper with a picture of him holding the club strip and signing on the dotted line of a ‘contract’.
At the age of 11, John had made it. He had the contract, the strip, the top club in the country and it is only matter of time before fame and fortune followed.
However, our hero’s journey must go through some trauma and crisis before he transforms and wins the day! So the journey starts well but soon he realises he is only one of a number at the club who are on the treadmill. His confidence is hit and soon his performances follow. He quickly moves from the ‘main man’ to a squad player as his appearances in the team become more irregular. Ultimately, at the age of thirteen, he is released. Disappointed and disillusioned, his dad picks him up as he has arranged for him to sign for a ‘lower league’ professional club. He is, therefore, still in the professional ranks which gives his ego a little jolt back into place. The Hero’s journey says he will be back at the top after he works his way through his current predicament. He starts well but as the season goes on, that pace and power that he relied on has been overtaken by others who have not only matched his strength but have better technique. Again, he finds himself getting less game time and the recurring self-fulfilling prophecy dents his confidence again. Released again, but he’s ok because a top end amateur club want to sign him up. They are always hanging around the ‘pro’ scene looking for the cast-offs. He joins them but they are far from his home and involves many hours driving by his parents to and from training and games. He is certainly not feeling like the hero now and eventually picks up the courage to tell his parents he is not enjoying playing football any more.
John is now fifteen and decides to take a break. He now realises he is not going to make the grade, his hero’s journey is over before it ever really began. He thinks this is not the way it was meant to happen. One year becomes two and he has still not found that unbridled joy he had for the game. That elusive Hare he had been chasing will never be caught yet he is still on the track. What does this mean?
He is now eighteen the glitzy football career is all but a distant memory. It’s the real world, the track is real and the hare looks back at him in the distant and winks. A new journey beckons. He starts with going out and finding the girlfriend but then very quickly after a few upgrades he finds the one. He acquires the car, the house, the marriage, the job, the children. All of which require regular upgrades. The house is never big enough; the car is never fast enough; the job is never high profile enough but it has to be said the credit card bill is the only thing that is enough! The race is back on. I’m going to catch that hare he says. Eventually, after many years of chasing, John is exhausted. He has hit middle age and wonders what the hell has just happened. John just stops and is still. He closes his eyes and wonders where did all the joy go that he had as a kid with a football. He needs to let the hare go and step off the track. Easier said than done, I have a mortgage, commitments, dependants. John has realised that his early life has been conditioned and is now reflected in his adult life. The conditioning continues as he screams ” How the hell do I get off?”
John is at a crossroads, I don’t know which way he will go? If I were to offer even the smallest piece of advice (and I am not qualified to do so!). The past story is irrelevant, we have conditioned ourselves with our thoughts. He needs to kill that image of a hero (ego). It is time for John to break free from these same thoughts that hold him back and go forward to have any chance of making a real difference. John has the opportunity to change the story but only he can do it, only he can break free.
Lots of questions for John to answer:
Can he get off the track and leave the hare to run its own race?
How does he do it?
If not now, when?
How does he experience that joy from his childhood again?
I wish I could help John to answer all these questions as he has already asked me a number of times. All I can offer, is for him to stop listening to that voice in his head that is telling him a story that is not true. Be present, live in the moment, stop chasing the hare and ‘Just Be’. There is nothing else.